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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

The Round Table – Cash Game 101 with David Grey

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*An insight to high limit poker by one of poker’s top pros*

I don’t really think tournaments mean anything. Tournaments are not a true test of skill. People often don’t do well in cash games, but do well in tournaments, because they have no self control. When they lose a big pot in a tournament they are either out or they have very little chips left so they are out shortly after.

Tournaments to me prove nothing, except who got lucky at the right time. Not that you can’t make some good plays, and there is some skill involved of course, but the skill set that is required for tournaments is to play like a maniac and just keep raising people and hope they don’t call you.

In general it is usually good to play fairly conservatively but if everyone is playing very careful then you can get out there a little more and steal a little bit, antes and blinds and stuff like that. In a tournament playing the absolute optimum strategy for what your hands dictate, it doesn’t give you the best chance to win the tournaments. It probably gives you a reasonable chance to make the money but not really to win the tournament.

In cash games every hand is worth the same as every other hand. Winning late isn’t any better than getting a hold of chips at the beginning of the game. None of those things mean anything, just being in self control and the knowledge of the game is the key to cash games.

Tournaments don’t really mean anything. You play in a tournament and start with 10,000 chips and then you have 15,000 chips six hours into the tournament and half the people are out and you are behind schedule even though you are ahead. Before you know it, if you break even for the next two limits, they are blinding 1000-2000 and you have 15,000. The next hand you play, you are going all in, so it doesn’t prove anything. It is just the nature of tournaments. That is why you see such a wide variance of people; you see people that no one has ever heard of get to the final table of tournaments all the time, whether it is the World Series of Poker or the World Poker Tour and there are the guys who have done very well in tournaments, they are good players, they are good against bad players, and they also play every single tournament.

If you play every single tournament you are going to get to more or less tables than the guys that play four tournaments a year. That’s just the way it is. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that like Phil Hellmuth isn’t a better no limit hold’em tournament player than I am, I think he is. I think he is probably better than anyone, but he also plays every single no limit hold’em tournament available and he does well. He has a terrific record, he has 11 bracelets but he has been playing for twenty something years.

When you play in cash games you play against a lot of good players. Cash games are basically a long run proposition. Certain people have won, like complete wild beasts for like a year, year and a half, in the big cash game, then all of a sudden they lose for awhile, then you never see them in the game ever again. This has happened many, many times. It really takes a long time to figure out. As Doyle said, ‘when a guy has been winning for a year, call me in twenty years and tell me how he is doing.’ That’s the truth, there’s not that many people that have been playing the big cash games for the last fifteen, twenty years.

I’ve been able to make it in the games because I have better control than anyone. I really don’t ever get mad at my money, plus I have a good skill set and I don’t play for like three days straight like some people do. I know how to manage and I also know how to play good, even if I lost four hands in a row. Unfortunately one of the reasons why people get stuck and keep getting stuck worse, is because one of the reasons people win in poker games, is when they get ahead, people are losing and the other players are playing worse than their best because they are stuck and they are steaming. When you are losing, people that you are playing with are winning so when you are losing is a good time to quit, because not only are you maybe not going to play your best, but your opponents are playing their best because they are winning.

There is a big difference between a guy like Eli Elezra when he’s winning $150,000 and losing $200,000. When he is losing, he is playing every hand like a complete maniac, but when he is winning, he is playing his best. He doesn’t have to play every hand because he is happy with his situation, but when he is unhappy with his situation, he is trying to get even. That rings true with a lot of mediocre players that are ok winning players. Most people are decent winning players, just about anyone that gets to the level of the big games, and when I say big games even like 200-400 game. If they are a semi-professional player and they are playing in a white chip game in LA, 300-600, 400-800, when they are winning they are tough to beat. If a guy sits down with $20,000 and he’s got $35,000 in front of him, he’s probably not going to be throwing his money away for awhile. If he loses a bunch of pots straight, and he gets down to where his $35,000 is down to $15,000, and he starts thinking he’s lost $20,000 straight, now he might start burning up his money. When guys are winning, though, they are playing their best.

There was the younger kid, Brian Townsend who played in the big game and won for a couple days and then he lost real big. I don’t know what happened to him but he hasn’t been on Full Tilt anymore so I heard he won many millions straight and I think he might be broke now. It’s just another typical flash in the pan, a kid that ran like $20 into $4 million and then ran $4 million into $20.

This happens, they start winning and he’s probably a reasonably good player and also very lucky. Everyone told me that played with him that he just won every coin flip for a year straight on Full Tilt and was playing really big, 200-400 no limit, Omaha and all these games and those are big games where you can win $100,000; $200,000; $300,000 in ten minutes in those games. He started small, he won, he had heart, and he wanted to gamble bigger. He played medium for a little while, he won, he took a shot, he kept winning and he just kept winning. Then, all of the sudden…I know he lost over a million one night playing in Bobby’s Room. I think he lost almost two million one night. I don’t know how much of his bankroll that was but I think it was a pretty big chunk of it. A lot of people gamble well over their bankroll.

To survive in the big game you have to do everything right. It’s a lot more than being a good player.

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